Fourth of July Monday started out with data processing and other office work. Later in the morning, Nicole took a brief break from her work to visit some adorable 3 week old kittens with Kaila. They were precious!
By 1500, everyone was ready to set off on our quest for dolphins. Unfortunately, due to some not-safety-related boat delays, we did not leave until closer to 1600. Everyone remained in good spirits, however, and we were rewarded by finding a group of Atlantic spotted dolphins less than an hour after setting out! This group included Stefran (#82), Swoosh (#36), Leslie (#80) and likely Niecey (#48–to be confirmed in DCP’s still photos). In addition to these four older dolphins there were four very playful calves! These youngsters took turns riding the bow wake, floating head up or fluke up and poking each other with their rostra. We also saw a calf actively rubbing its face against Leslie’s pectoral fin, as well as a calf nursing from possibly-Niecey. Analyzing these observations from our human perspective, this group almost seemed to be sharing a “play-date.”
After about an hour of observing these possible mother-calf pairs from the boat, three more spotted dolphins joined the group, maybe including Buster (#04). Twenty minutes later we attempted an underwater encounter. When we entered the water a pair of dolphins swam by and simply kept on going so we quickly returned to the boat. The second time we got in the water we were able to observe the dolphins for over half an hour! This encounter gave us a perfect illustration of the spotted dolphins’ fission-fusion society–there were about 10 dolphins when we entered the water, then at least 18, then a smaller group of 5, and so on. During all of this group shifting, we were able to recognize Stefran, Leslie and Swoosh once more, as well as Romeo (#10), Lil’ Jess (#35) and possibly Freckles (#15) who were all seen with calves! We are excited to check the video and still photos to see who else was there!
Despite the late departure, we were able to return to the dock on time after enjoying our observations of the dolphins. We were all smiles as we climbed back on land and headed off for dinner. We cannot wait to see what tomorrow will bring!
We hope everyone in the USA enjoyed their Fourth of July holiday weekend as much as we did!
Happy Independence Day, America!
Kel & Nicole